This past weekend I went to Budapest. It was a fantastic trip – amazing city, great people, and oh my god thermal baths – about which I could probably write 7 or 8 posts, but what was really striking to me were my feelings upon returning. Sunday afternoon, as we boarded our Student Agency bus for the seven hour trip, I was sad to leave, of course; I have never been good with endings, and it seemed particularly cruel to be leaving a city just when I’d really fallen in love with it. But I, and all the people I was travelling with, was really excited to be going home, to Prague. It seems pretty shocking that this city we’ve only been in for four weeks, this utterly foreign country, this place that I often find myself surprised to be surviving – this was the place I wanted to return to, the home I felt homesick for.
We were talking about how we would get home from the bus station, and suddenly everyone got very excited about subway stops we knew, and street signs we could understand. Holly and I parsed through the menu in our seat pocket, and were thrilled and astounded at how much we could understand (NB: After 2 weeks now of intensive Czech, five hours a day, plus immersion, talking with Czech buddies and more classes, my Czech is becoming…well, something). After three days in Hungarian, a language proud of its difficulty in which we couldn’t even say “Thank you” or pronounce the street signs, Czech was welcome. Its almost like I actually live here!
On a sort of related note, I had an interesting experience today – in my film class, the professor, an American who has been living here for years, spoke to another teacher who came into the class to help with something, and it took me a minute or two to realize he was speaking in Czech. His accent – and by that I mean everything he sounded like, his vowels and his pronunciation of “L” and “R” and his intonation – sounded so much like American that the language didn’t even register as Czech. Jarring, and perhaps highlights this weird sort of immersed-but-still-very-much-not-actually-one-of-them feeling thatD I’m in these days. I live here?